Docetaxel (Taxotere) Side-Effects

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Docetaxel is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat several types of cancer. Chemotherapy treatments are also referred to as cytotoxic drugs, which means they are toxic and damaging to cells.

Although these drugs are used to kill cancerous cells, the drugs can also kill off healthy cells in the body. Examples of healthy tissues that are affected by these drugs include the bone marrow, hair follicles and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Some of the common side effects of docetaxel therapy include:

Docetaxel can lead to a drop in red blood cell number and anemia. As red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen around the body, a reduced red blood cell count can cause shortness of breath and fatigue.

Hair loss
Individuals who receive docetaxel treatment usually lose the hair on their head and are also at risk of losing their eyelashes, eyebrows and other body hair. Hair loss may occur after one or two cycles of chemotherapy and hair usually begins to regrow once the treatment is finished.

Peripheral neuropathy
A tingling or numb sensation in the hands and feet, termed peripheral neuropathy, can also occur as a side effect of docetaxel treatment. This effect on the nerves can make it difficult for a patient to complete fiddly tasks such as tying laces or fastening buttons. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy usually begin to slowly fade after treatment is complete.

Docetaxel therapy can damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which may cause diarrhea.

Muscles and joint pain
The muscles and joints may be painful two to three days after chemotherapy, which may be soothed by taking warm baths.

Water retention and weight gain
Patients taking docetaxel may notice their ankles and legs seem heavy and swollen due to a build-up of fluid in these areas. This can be prevented with the use of a steroid, which the doctor may prescribe. The swelling resolves after chemotherapy is complete.

Tiredness is a common effect of docetaxel therapy and can last for some weeks after treatment has ended. Gentle exercise and plenty of rest can help combat the fatigue that develops as a result of docetaxel therapy.

Altered taste sensation
A bitter or metallic taste in the mouth is a common side effect of docetaxel treatment. Food may also taste different to how it normally tastes. These changes usually resolve after treatment has finished.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Marinho Santos Marinho Santos Brazil says:

    Dear Sir(s),
    Other day I was surfing on internet when I saw a text talking about the  drug Doxetaxel and their colateral effects.  The text was a translation from English to Portuguese and it was very poor.
    As I am brazilian and I know something about the language I would like to ask you if I culd rewrite the text.

    Best regards,

    Marinho Santos

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